Teresa's Story: It's a New Year!

Teresa's Story: It's a New Year!

It's a new year!  This has been my motto the past several years.  I had a heart attack at age 41, a massive pulmonary embolism in both lungs at 43 ... and was diagnosed with breast cancer last summer ... at age 45.  My diagnosis followed the recent deaths of my sister and my mother.  I was definitely looking for something positive to happen, not breast cancer.

I had a normal mammogram but had a drainage coming from my breast.  My doctor sent off cultures, and there were signs of cancer.  I went for a breast ultra sound, breast MRI and a galactogram, and cancer was found in the duct.  The cancer is called DCIS or, ductal carcinoma in situ.  I had a lumpectomy done on July 30th, and partial mastectomy done on September 13th of last year.  I was told after the second surgery that the cancer was HER2/neupositive ... an aggressive type of cancer, and radiation was recommended.

I was very conflicted.  I was still dealing with the pain from the second surgery and was scared to death of radiation.  Had I known the cancer was the aggressive form, I would have opted for a total mastectomy ... but the pain from the surgery was still with me.  I did not want to have another surgery.  My oncologist was great, we spoke at length about radiation, his opinion being to do the radiation. He said that he'd recommend it to his wife, mother, or sister.  Still, I suppose I was in denial ... my cancer was only stage zero.  My mammogram was normal.  Was all this necessary?  In the end, I did have radiation, and though its not something I want to ever repeat, it was not the horrible thing I imagined.

I have had my testing done now ... and I am cancer free!I may be a bit obsessed with breast exams now, but they saved my life.  I am always telling women, do not rely on a positive mammogram.  There are other things you need to look for ... and if something is not "right" with your breast ... follow up and get it checked out.  The tests are not pleasant, the treatment is not easy ... but they are better than the alternative.

I love seeing the "reminders" everywhere ... including pink carts ...of how important breast exams are.

So .... its a new year!